Timba a la Americana
After three solid albums for Mack Avenue, Cuban piano virtuoso Harold López-Nussa makes the transition to Blue Note with Timba a La Americana, produced by Michael League of Snarky Puppy. The sonic canvas is a bit broader, with Rhodes and synth elements shoring up what is ultimately an acoustic Latin-jazz project (the Rhodes solo on “Tumba la Timba” is especially deadly). Rhythm is at the heart of it, thanks to conguero Bárbaro “Machito” Crespo and the superb Ruy Adrián López-Nussa (the leader’s brother and bandmate from the very start) on drums. “Tierra Mía” is where they really break it down, offering a master class in Afro-Latin polyrhythm. Luques Curtis plays a version of the “baby” upright bass, with a deep but pointed attack favored in a lot of Latin music. The lead melodic voice is Grégoire Maret on harmonica (a role fulfilled by Mayquel González’s trumpet on the last Mack Avenue date, Te Lo Dije). Fluid and full of blues feeling, Maret can deliver a heartrending melody (“Mamá,” “Mal Du Pays”) or throw down in the most challenging, energized environments (“Rat-a-Tat,” “Tumba la Timba”), lending a bigger, grander sound to this impressive all-original program.